Tag: Frank Sinatra

My Way by Paul Anka

November 21st, 2016 — 4:44pm

My Way by Paul Ankascreen-shot-2016-11-21-at-2-08-00-am

I have always enjoyed the music of Paul Anka. So when someone told me that he wrote this book and told all about the behind the scenes goings on of the Rat Pack in Las Vegas, I thought it might be worth reading, especially since Frank Sinatra has always been one of my heroes.

Well, it turned out to be a very interesting book, but the heroes moved down a couple of notches. Frank Sinatra turns out to frequently be an unpleasant drunk when he drank lot which he often did. Sammy Davis, Jr., is shown to be a promiscuous bisexual but interestingly enough, Dean Martin wasn’t the lush that was often his public persona and apparently avoided the wild drinking parties of the other Rat Pack members.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that women were objectified by this group. Sinatra apparently surprised his friends when he said in response to a question that the women who was best in bed wasn’t Ava Gardner but was Angie Dickinson, adding according to Anka that he said he “really loved that woman.”

Paul Anka was born in Canada and burst on to the world stage as a teenager. He is a very talented singer and songwriter who has reinvented himself several time and still is performing into his ‘70s. His love of his work clearly comes through in this book. His song writing ability and his decision to write for other performers as well as himself makes him quite unique. He wrote Frank Sinatra’s signature song “My Way” and even wrote the Tonight Show theme song among numerous other mega hit songs. He has performed in just about every major venue around the world and has recorded bestselling albums in the United States and in other countries, as well as in different languages. Not only was he friends and part of the Rat Pack but he was also good friends with Elvis, Bobby Darin, Bob Dylan and numerous other big name stars.

The person who writes the book gets to paint his own history and is able to tell about others any way that he wishes to do so. For example, Anka relates how Ed McMahon was a somewhat stingy guy and one time Anka played a joke on him by calling his hotel room and pretending to be the hotel staff. He told McMahon that there were going to be noisy renovations taking place near his room and that they can move him to another room or let him stay there for free and give him ear muffs to block out the sound which was the choice that McMahon made.

The reader gets the impression that Anka avoided heavy drinking and drugs and we only get a vague reference that he had all the girls he wanted early in his career. He tells how he loved his parents who were quite supportive of him. His mother died at an early age and his father helped him in his business. Anka had five daughters from his first marriage which lasted 38 years and then was briefly married for 18 months. He revealed very little about his personal foibles but I thought his description of his long marriage and the breakup was notable and I will quote part of it here.

I am a singer of love songs, I sing songs of everlasting love, how you’re the only one – and I believe in it. But sometimes these things don’t work out in your private life. I was married to Anne for 38 years and I love her still. She is the mother of my five daughters who have all brought terrific son-in-laws into our family and we had a great life together. I love this woman. I always will. Getting divorced from Anne was just something I had to do for myself. Our kids were gone, our lives changed, our relationship changed. I can’t remain in something – even a long time of loving marriage – when I’m no longer experiencing things honestly. I didn’t want to be dishonest to someone I love even if that meant separating and so in 2001, Anne and I were divorced. There was no animosity, no big fights – I just wanted out of the box. We talk almost every day… I gave Anne everything that was legally hers and I threw in our art collection (that is worth millions) because I know how much she loved it, and other considerations but I said, “None of this down the middle stuff.

Anka appears to be very gratified for his great success as a performer, he describes many musicians, managers, agents, and performers who were his good friends. He detailed his relationship with Steve Wynn, the wealthy Las Vegas hotel mogul and his many interesting stories about him including one about Donald Trump which is in character with his current persona.

Towards the end of the book, Anka clearly describes how he feels every time he performs and steps on the stage. The intensity of that experience and his connection with the audience is very impressive.

I am sure he didn’t write this book for the royalties that it might bring. He probably chose to share at least part of his life and perhaps try to influence the legacy that he will leave. It was a nice read but he need not worry, as his music will live on and define Paul Anka for many generations. To listen to one of Paul Anka’s biggest hits click here.

To obtain a copy of this book from Amazon, please click here

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All in Good Time by Jonathan Schwartz

March 31st, 2011 — 2:59am

Buy now on Amazon: The Alchemist

All In Good TimeI have probably been listening to Jonathan Schwartz play Frank Sinatra and his genre of  music on the radio for more than 30 years originally in New York and now on satellite radio in LA. His intimate understanding of the music ,the song writers and the singers was matched by his warm personal style of chatting with the audience. I guess I felt that he was one of my friends and I spent many  weekend afternoons listening to him. I knew he was a well respected expert in this music, had been a singer himself and that his father was a well known song writer who wrote Dancing in the Dark and some other songs that were part of the American Song Book. Therefore I was very pleased when a dear cousin of mine presented me with this book as a gift. After reading it I feel that I now know  “my friend” much better  and as a psychiatrist I particularly understand  some of the pain suffering that he has gone through in his remarkable life. Growing up he was surrounded by show business stars and has to be one of the few people on earth who can recall as a small child having Judy Garland come into his room and sing him “Over the Rainbow.”    Unfortunately he had to also suffer the death of his mother while he was little kid. He also encountered a step mother who treated him much worst than was the case in the Cinderella story. He shared the sad story of his childhood excursions of sneaking into neighbors homes in Beverly Hills to hid behind  their couches just to listen to their family interactions  He did inherit his father’s musical ability, developed a wonderful ear for music and insight into  the popular music of his early years and the genre which was built upon it.  His desire to play music on the radio was manifested as an early teenager as he rigged up his own radio station when living in Manhattan which could be picked up in his apartment house on many radios. This well written  memoir ( he is also an accomplished writer) is an intimate one in which we learn of his encounters with girls and young women and his hardy drinking. He paints a full rich picture of the nature of many of his difficult relationships with women. He seems to pull few punches as he tells of his flirting with suicide, his psychiatric admission and his time at Betty Ford Hospital. for his alcoholism. While I would not venture a psychiatric diagnosis, I will say that I do believe that the five years or so that he had with his mother and a connection with his father that while certainly rocky and tested at times allowed him  to ultimately develop a warm mature personality. He seems  to be a caring father with a very good relationship with his children. Perhaps the vignette which stands out most in my mind from the book is the story how Frank Sinatra ( certainly a symbolic  father figure to him )  whom he did meet several times, arranged to have  him fired from his radio job because he made  some negative critique of one of his albums. Despite this traumatic event Jonathan Schwartz never faltered in his love for the man and his music. Although we are the same age, I am very grateful that he continues to be on the  radio with no sign of slowing down  and to be “my friend” and companion as I enjoy my favorite music.

Comment » | AM - Autobiography or Memoir

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